Antilock braking system (ABS) technology, used in cars for years, is making its way to tractors. Fast-tractor maker JCB, whose tractors travel at 43 mph, has equipped its Fastrac tractors with ABS since 2001. To date it is the only manufacturer to offer the technology on tractors sold in the U.S.

However, Thomas Lano, business manager with New Holland, says New Holland will offer ABS as an option on its North American tractors as early as this fall, starting with the T7000 series. The T8000 series tractors will follow next year. Higher speeds and heavier loads are driving the need for advanced braking.

“The ABS will be a fundamental part of what makes these tractors safe at the higher speeds,” Lano says. He says the top speed of these New Holland tractors is currently 32 mph, but it will go up to 35 mph shortly.

The ABS technology will facilitate braking at high speeds with heavy loads and on bad roads. Sensors monitor the speed of each wheel, and electronic controllers modulate the brake pressure to prevent the wheels from locking. Locked wheels can lead to skidding, jackknifing or loss of steering control.

As part of the new ABS technology, New Holland will introduce ABS SuperSteer. “This will allow us to turn tight without having to turn out [the lightbulb effect] or having to stand on a brake and cut up the field,” Lano says.

Other manufacturers are also developing ABS for their tractors. Case IH had a Puma tractor equipped with ABS at Agritechnica 2009, Europe’s largest farm show (see farmindustrynews.com/tv). At the same show, AGCO announced that ABS would be available on its Fendt tractors, probably by early 2011. AGCO is the only company currently working with the system made by Bosch Rexroth.

According to Jason Hoult, AGCO’s product marketing manager for high-horsepower wheeled tractors, use of a hydraulic system rather than a pneumatic one helps to reduce the space needed for the components. Hoult says the parts of the Bosch Rexroth braking system are highly integrated into the vehicle design.